Strategic Planning & Organisational Performance, no longer Mutually Exclusive.

One of the critical barriers to effective strategic planning is poor communication and engagement. This also links directly into ownership issues as well as empowerment. Previously, I and a consulting colleague undertook a survey of 150 Australian nonprofit CEO’s and senior managers to understand some of the leadership and management issues facing this sector. The survey was made up of 10 questions focused on a range of management and leadership issues, including effectiveness levels of both the management teams and the board, the ability of the organisation to adapt to change, the linking of strategic planning and performance measurement, the effectiveness of internal communication strategies, and the organisational culture that supports achievement of the overall mission.

The survey included respondents from nonprofit organisations located predominantly on the east coast of Australia. One of the interesting issues highlighted in the results was that one third of all respondents indicated that employees across the organisation were not aware of their organisation’s key priority areas, and how their nonprofit organisation intended to serve their customers and/or clients.

For obvious reasons, this finding initially was initially surprising. On further deliberating what this meant for Australian nonprofit organisations, I realised that in my consulting and executive management experiences over the last 40+ years, strategic planning processes undertaken by many organisations failed to involve members from across the organisation, resulting in a lack of ownership and strategic awareness amongst the wider group. This shortcoming was also linked, to some extent, to another finding in the survey in which 30% of respondents felt that internal communication processes within their nonprofit organisation were not as effective as they could be.

Where poor strategic planning processes exist, there is established research that identifies low levels of employee engagement and ownership, and these latter characteristics must be in existence for Australian organisations to prosper in the coming years. This is extremely relevant in the nonprofit sector, given the large numbers of such organisations, all chasing the same philanthropic dollars, and in an economy where government funding options may not be as prevalent as they once were.

Strategic planning is not a simple process, and should not be considered merely in the context of a singular facilitated workshop which follows a set path, and utilise set formats to achieve the only identified outcome, namely the strategic plan. There is much more to it, and much needs to be considered, both form a preliminary planning perspective as well as from a post development perspective.

OPTIMUM NFP Strategic Planning Process


  • Ausdance NSW
  • Australian Catholic University
  • Autism Advisory Support Services
  • Eastern Respite and Recreation
  • First Nations Australia Writers Network
  • Gadigal Information Service Aboriginal Corporation
  • Koorana Child and Family Centre Pty. Ltd.
  • Marist Youth Care
  • Multicultural Aged Care Illawarra
  • Nepean Area Disabilities Organisaiton
  • Self Help Workplace & Encore Clothing
  • St Francis Social Services
  • Sydney Adventist Hospital Foundation
  • The Northern Centre
  • TNC Incorporated
  • Vincent Industries Inc.

At OPTIMUM NFP we have, over the last 10 years, been actively involved in the development of strategic plans for Australian nonprofit organisations, which have involved whole-of-organisation approaches. To discuss our strategic planning options, please contact us today.

to PO Box 966
1470 NSW

Phone: (02) 9181 1014

Mobile. 0411 744 911 . Email: Privacy Policy